Neil Lennon accepts return to winning ways for Celtic won't quell fans' frustrations
Celtic manager Neil Lennon has conceded that his side appearing to get their “mojo” back won’t get some supporters off his or the club board’s back.
Lennon’s men made it back-to-back wins for the first time in 10 weeks courtesy of a 2-0 victory over Kilmarnock. But although it avoided fans gathering to protest into the night as they had following wretched results the previous three weeks, the 49-year-old was far from oblivious about the support’s continued disgruntlement that engendered a demonstration, organised by The Celtic Trust, two hours before kick-off wherein the protesters cheered the team bus into the stadium.
Lennon sought to preach goodwill to all with his side at last beginning to drag themselves out of a ruinous slump, but his appeal was offered more in hope than expectation. “We just want unity,” he said, stating the support from protesters was “wonderful” and “appreciated”.
“We understand the fans’s frustrations. We’re out of the League Cup. And we’re out of Europe, so now we concentrate on the league. So it’s important that the fans get behind us, but we have to replicate that with performances and results. So it has been a good day but that’s all it has been so far. It won’t placate all of the fans, because of that position we are in, so we have to work at it and make it better.”
Focus now turns to the Scottish Cup final against Hearts next Sunday, and the bid to complete a world-first quadruple treble. Lennon hinted that even though he left stalwarts of the four-year trophy-hoovering run in Scott Brown, Ryan Christie and Tom Rogic on the bench against the Ayshire men, he won’t necessarily consider emerging inspirations David Turnbull and Ismaila Soro for starting slots at the national stadium.
“They have given me options,” he said of the pair, and 22-year-old keeper Conor Hazard, who impressed against Kilmarnock and in the Lille victory three days before it. “But I’d like to think about the boys who got us there as well. We can’t just write them off, but the lads who have come in have done a terrific job.
"I’m just pleased that we won and played well. They are capable of that. A few of them have been drifting, we’ve been drifting for six or seven games. But they seem to have got a little bit of mojo back and that can only help encourage things as we go along. We have a week now to prepare for a cup final which we are all looking forward to. But it was important we won and it’s important we put a consistent run together now for a concerted period of time.”
Lennon could also take satisfaction from being able to bring on winger Mikey Johnston for a first appearance in 11 months as the result of knee and calf problems. “We’ve missed him,” Lennon said. “We’ve missed that type of player, what with Jamesy [Forrest] being out as well. He’s a player that can break the lines, and we’ve been missing that type. So I’m happy he is back.”
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